Wednesday, August 08, 2012
Patriots defensive back Nate Ebner (43) defends against wide receiver Brandon Lloyd (85) during training camp. (Staff photo by Keith Nordstrom)
August 7, 2012
BY MARK FARINELLA
FOXBORO - Brandon Morabito's favorite player is finally on the practice field for the Patriots.
Nate Ebner, the sixth-round choice of the Patriots whose name was announced on Draft Day by the 10-year-old Norton lad at Radio City Music Hall, has recovered from an undisclosed injury and has been doing what comes naturally to him - running up and down the field at breakneck speed, trying to hit someone.
Special teams are Ebner's forte. It's what he did at Ohio State when he wasn't playing rugby - he walked onto the football team to see what he could do in addition to being a world-class rugby player - and it's what attracted Bill Belichick's attention during the draft.
Technically, for classification purposes, Ebner is a defensive back. But he has been a regular participant in special-teams drills since returning to the practice field at the end of last week.
He said he wasn't worried that his absence from the practice field was going to hold him back.
"I'm not really worried about that," he said. "I'm just going to focus on getting better every day and taking it one step at a time. Wherever they want to play me, I'm going to do whatever I can for the team. That's all I'm worried about, doing the best I can wherever they put me."
Ebner is a rock-hard 6-0, 205 pounds and he's already established his toughness by playing rough-and-tumble rugby. In fact, he really doesn't have any football role models or Patriots to idolize because of his unique upbringing in the sport. But he said he still needs to be shown the ropes of this endeavor, and he knows where to look for examples of what he needs to learn.
"I just try to watch what the veterans do," he said. "I want to earn their respect. There's a bunch of great guys out here."